Welcome to Autumn...

By the time you read this autumn will have arrived. The leaves on the trees will be changing colour - and at church we shall be preparing for Harvest Festival.

Rewind to summer just for a moment, and memories of warm summer evenings sitting in the garden, with the scent of lilies and gardenia – oh yes, and another scent, too. You know the one - the smell that wafts in from the fields from around mid-August as the farmers Plough the Fields and Scatter something on the land – remember?

Home from college and wanting a job for the summer, our son registered with a local employment agency and waited. Eventually he was offered what turned out to be an enjoyable day working in a warehouse. Then the phone rang again, and the following morning I dropped him at a farm. That day we all learned something interesting about Harvest.

What is scattered on the land is first placed on a conveyor belt. Someone spends their shift removing plastic, metal and anything else that is not biodegradable from it. Some quit after a mind-numbing hour or so, but he completed his shift and I went to pick him up. As he got into the car, the smell of mid-August wafted in. As we drove home, I realised that the smell was sitting next to me.

With sore eyes, and Mrs Vicarage having refused to allow his clothing anywhere near her washing machine, he resolved to decline any further opportunities in processing compost before heading for the shower.

Let’s just say that when I next sing the Harvest hymns and lead the prayers, it will be with a fresh understanding of exactly what is involved in putting our food on supermarket shelves.

Those who work alongside that conveyor belt, Lord. Amen.